Logo, home button
test alt

The Witch's After Tea Party:
One Wild Night


It was a terrible snowstorm. The fierce crosswind’s sheer cold threatened to cut straight through her body. It sapped the strength from her feet, the sight from her eyes, her hearing, sense of smell, and touch. It made her feel as though it would steal all that she was.


From the haze which mired her thoughts, she realized someone nearby was shouting at her. When she glanced up, a face took shape inside the howling, snow-swept expanse.

The moment she could recognize the desperate cry from amid her stupor, two hands threaded themselves beneath her armpits, and she found herself yanked sharply upward from the snowdrift in which she lay waist-deep. The next instant, she found herself pulled free by sheer physical force.

And now she was free of the snow, into the open air. Although she had only gone from slowly freezing solid to an icy wind chill, this small change in body temperature allowed her snow-addled mind to realize something else.

“…hey, you! Are you listening?! Omega! I’m talking to you, Omega!!”

The discovery might have moved her if not for the banshee screeching inches from her ear. The owner of the indignant voice, currently peering sidelong at her, was a girl. Her refined appearance contrasted with the fury burning in the depths of her eyes.

“Oh good,” the girl muttered in a small voice. When Omega met her gaze, she breathed a sigh of relief. “You’re not dead, right? Can you hear me? If you can hear me, say something!”

“…I can…hear you. You don’t…have to…yell…” Omega rasped out.

“It’s just like you to talk back even when you’re gasping for air… Do you remember what happened?”

“Of course, I do… Who are you again?”

“Oh, you’re useless!” the girl raged at her.

The girl reached the limits of her anger and promptly headbutted her. The loud thud and sudden pain from the impact on her forehead wrenched back her drifting consciousness. Flexing her numb fingers and prodding the part of her forehead that had received the headbutt, she murmured, “That hurt, Palmyra.”

“So you do know me! Listen up, Omega. You fell into a pile of snow and got buried. I said I didn’t think we should leave in this weather, and now look—thanks to you, we’re stuck in a blizzard!”

“…Okay, but don’t yell so close to my ear. Your voice is even louder than usual, Minerva.”

“Who the hell is that?!” Seeing her slow drift into delirium, the girl—Palmyra—widened her eyes. Repeatedly slapping Omega’s cheeks, she screamed, “Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!”

It hurt, but sleep was winning. Ignoring the pain, she continued drifting towards the peaceful feeling.

“Palmyra! Omega! Are you two okay?!”

“Colette! Are you okay?”

“Yes, yes, I’m fine. Don’t worry about me. But…but it’s been awful! I’ve been looking all over, but I can’t find anywhere where we can rest!”

Pushing her way through the snow, the girl who appeared before the two had gentle features and was called Colette. When she saw Omega lying in Palmyra’s arms so limply, she yelped in surprise. Taking off her gloves, she pressed a bare palm to the girl’s frozen cheek. It wasn’t much in the face of such a terrible blizzard, but Omega was grateful for the warmth. Relying on that warmth, her eyelids shuddered as she spoke. “Colette, Palmyra… I have one final thing I want to say to you both.”

“Don’t jinx it!” cried Palmyra.

“No!” exclaimed Colette. “Don’t talk like that!”

Hearing her weak murmur, the two girls were in fierce denial at the possibility of her death. But that was merely the pointless struggle of those who couldn’t accept the reality in front of them.

Each moment, death grew closer.

Pale white and ice cold—a hopeless end.

“…No, actually, there is one last thing I can try.” Omega shook her head, picturing the results of not struggling like a fool. If not a fool’s resistance, there is only a sage’s concession. But how can this be better? she wondered. To just accept my fate graciously and not soil my last moments? Sounds like something that black-haired boy would never accept.

“───” Taking a shallow breath, she raised her arm slowly. Gathering at the tip of her fingers was the power to meddle with logic, a power only a select few could perceive. It was magic—an abnormality produced through the barbaric act of using mana to reshape the natural order to one’s will.

That was what brought the bright red flame into the world—a scorching heat that contrasted with the surrounding snow; brought into the world with the sole purpose of driving away the cold. It vanished quickly, and then it was over.

“…What was that?”

“A ball of fire? It disappeared so suddenly…”

Palmyra and Colette stared at one another, muttering about the lingering heat from the swelling ball of fire. Listening to the two talking, Omega let out a breath. “That was… the best I could do…”

“Wait, what?” said Palmyra. “That was you?!”

“Omega?!” exclaimed Colette. “Omega!”

Having used up the last of her remaining power in a genuine attempt to preserve her life, Omega felt her conscience—or rather, her entire existence—begin to fade. When a body constructed of mana welcomes death, it is absorbed by the particles that make up this world, and can only disappear.

It’s a comfort, at least, that those two won’t have to break down in tears beside my corpse. “But… If possible… I think I’d like to see…your faces as you cry…”

“What a cruel thing to say…!” cried Palmyra as she pleaded. “You… Wake up! Wake up, I said!!”

“P-Palmyra, no!” warned Colette. “Omega’s neck… Careful of her neck—”

Palmyra continued slapping Omega’s cheeks, unable to let her drift off, while Colette clung to Palmyra, trying to stop her attacks. Within the blizzard, they continued acting in a way they probably shouldn’t have, considering their situation, and time ticked by.

The three inched towards death with each passing moment.

“There you are! It seems the fire I saw just now was real after all.”

At the sudden voice, Colette and Palmyra turned in surprise. Standing before them in the snow was a woman in a thick robe.

“I’m Lysa, an itinerant preacher. I’m here to help!”


The woman calling herself Lysa skillfully began her work to save the three of them. “First of all, getting warm amidst the blizzard will be difficult; let’s dig into the snow and make a simple hole to serve as a windbreak. Here, take my jacket.”

“Ah!” exclaimed Colette. “I’m sorry! So sorry! I’ll help too. Please, let me help!”

Lysa nimbly removed her thick outer garment, threw it over Palmyra, and—using her cane—began work on the hole in the snow with her slender arms. Seeing this, the confused Colette also offered to lend a hand. And so, just like that, they created a cave in the snow, which the four huddled down into.

“It may be a little cramped, but we should make a fire now that the windbreak is done. Let’s get everyone warmed up.”

“…air…the air.”

“…? Oh, right! If we don’t let air into our hole, we’ll all suffocate.”


Startled, Palmyra stiffened, but Lysa just laughed, saying, “There’s no need to worry.” Then, with her cane, she pierced the ceiling, opening a small air vent.

After that, the woman produced a single book from her bag and tore a page out to use as kindling. Slowly, she brought a fire to life inside the cave.


“Yes, very warm. Fire purifies all. There’s nothing greater in this world than fire.”

“That’s a little extreme… But-But it does sound reasonable. After all… it’s just so warm.”

As they comfortably warmed up in the cave little by little, Colette and Palmyra’s severe expressions began to fade. And then…

“The fire…is warm…” Omega said, stretching her body from Palmyra’s arms and straining to get closer to the warmth.

Watching her do this, Palmyra raised an eyebrow. “Careful. Don’t burn yourself.”

“I wouldn’t do anything so foolish. Though numb hands sure are inconvenient…ow!” While suppressing a laugh, Omega slipped on the snow approaching the fire and, with a flutter of her peach-colored hair, fell headfirst into the open flame. This warmed her up incredibly quickly. “I see, so this is a fire…”

“Agh!” exclaimed Palmyra. “How could you do it just as I was saying not to? What were you thinking?!”

“Just now, the pain of being burned… So this is what Carmilla felt…”

“Is your face okay, Omega?” asked Colette. “Make sure you cool it down properly with some snow…”

Drawing away from the fire, she applied snow to her burned face. Even though she was burned, frozen, and uncomfortable, being together like this made it all rather enjoyable. Watching the three of them, Lysa was dumbfounded and had to cover her mouth to stifle a laugh. “…You three sure are a strange bunch.”

Ugh… How…embarrassing…” Palmyra’s face reddened, and she lowered her head as Lysa laughed.

Huddling up next to Palmyra, Colette clasped her hands to her chest. “You’re right about that…I’m sorry, was your name Lysa?”

“Yes, that’s right. I’m Lysa, an itinerant preacher.”

“Thanks to you, Lysa, we’re alive. We’re so grateful! If you hadn’t come when you did…” Colette’s long eyelashes fluttered as a slight hint of fear crossed her pale face. “We’d all have…”

“We’d all have become snow algae… Is that the right word?”

“I don’t know what you’re trying to ask, but in that case, you certainly would have been the first to become one,” said Palmyra as she poked Omega between her furrowed brows as she attempted to finish Colette’s sentence.

Omega accepted both the finger and the protest and said, “It doesn’t matter. I’m grateful, too, Lysa. You said you were an itinerant preacher… Does that mean you’re part of the Gustekan Church?”

“Yes, that’s right. I spread our teachings as an itinerant preacher. I saw the red flame in the snow completely by chance… It took me by surprise.”

“And then you found us… How about that, Palmyra?” asked Omega. “Did you hear that?”

“I hope you’re not thinking it was all thanks to you,” Palmyra replied. “You’re the one who marched out into the blizzard in the first place and slipped into the snow. Everything was your fault.”

“…I see you haven’t learned to say thank you.”

“If I were to say thank you, it would be to Lysa—not you!”

The more Omega complained about the unreasonable assessment, the more she received Palmyra’s objections. As she shrugged her shoulders, Palmyra’s face turned redder and redder.

“Umm, these two are very sorry, Lysa. We haven’t even introduced ourselves. I’m Colette, and this child is Palmyra… And this very small child is—”

“Omega.” Riding off of Colette’s introduction, she chimed in with her own. Omega—a name suitable for this body, but not for a witch living in these times.

“So you’re Colette, Palmyra, and Omega, correct? Thank you for letting me know.” Listening to their introductions, Lysa gave a deep bow.

Omega was somewhat irritated at being called a small child, but it was true that her outward appearance made her look like the youngest of the three, so she didn’t protest.


As she warmed herself by the fire, Omega inspected Lysa’s appearance. She had gold hair that flowed to her lower back and clear blue eyes. Her fair skin and curved body were wrapped in a thick robe. Being an itinerant preacher, she most likely spent a lot of time touring various places within the freezing kingdom of Gusteko.

“This may sound a little rude, but isn’t being an itinerant preacher a difficult job for a woman?”

“It is. However, it’s my duty to travel across the kingdom on my own two feet and speak to the people with my own words. I truly believe there’s no better way to spread our teachings.”

“I see. But haven’t the Holy King Church’s Teachings already been spread to the vast majority of people? It’s hard to believe there’s any room for new teachings at this stage.”

“Our teachings are in the midst of a transformation. It’s my task as a servant of the Holy King to guide and instruct people in the new ways.” Lysa pressed a hand to her chest as she spoke, making her devotion to her faith clear.

Apologizing for causing trouble, Omega shrugged. “I’m not trying to test your faith with these questions. But there are people who follow the teachings without really thinking about them, aren’t there? Asking about things like this can give an interesting new perspective on it all.”

“Isn’t that the definition of testing…?” Palmyra scrutinized.

“Palmyra, you really do nitpick,” Omega shot back. “Don’t you ever get tired?”

Eyes locked on each other, there was tension in the air between Omega and Palmyra. Suddenly, Colette cut in, trying to move the conversation’s focus onto Lysa. “Excuse me! Lysa! Can I ask something?!” she asked. “Thanks to you, we managed to make a little house in the snow, but will we be okay staying here until morning?!”

“No, staying so long should be avoided,” answered Lysa. “There’s no indication that the blizzard will let up overnight, so once you’ve recovered your strength we should move. There’s a church nearby we can take shelter in.”

“A church… Well, if there’s a building nearby, that’s great,” Omega chimed in.

Hearing Lysa’s proposal, Colette and Palmyra looked relieved. Even Omega agreed with the suggestion.

“Anyhow,” continued Omega, “I’ve used up most of my strength… I didn’t think that just trying to survive in the snow would consume so much mana.”

“Have you learned your lesson?” asked Palmyra.

“Everything in life is a lesson, and I’m here to learn everything life has to offer.”

Upon seeing no indication of regret, Palmyra grabbed Omega’s collar and shook her tiny body back and forth. “You…!!”

Lysa furrowed her brow at Colette, who was watching the two of them with a smile. “Are you three always like this?” she asked.

“Generally, yes. But the three of us have only just started our journey together…” replied Colette with a smile. Placing a hand on her cheek, she looked fondly at her quarreling companions. “Every day is completely different, and it’s always so much fun.”


The church had been constructed high in the snowy mountains. Back in the day, those in a position of authority had a preference for high places, and so churches were often built in similar areas.

“Naturally, churches on mountains also serve as a landmark to follow when looking from below,” explained Omega. “Exactly as we’re using it right now, they can be considered a beacon of hope when on the verge of death.”

“Could you explain while walking on your own legs?” Palmyra grumbled to herself as Omega lectured about the church’s history. In front of her, Lysa trudged along the snowy road, carrying Omega on her back.

“Sorry, Lysa. Are you sure she’s not too heavy?” asked Colette. “If it’s too much, let me know; I’ll do my best to take over.”

“I’m okay, but thank you for your concern, Colette.”

Currently acting as their guide along the snowy road—on top of dealing with Omega—Colette was right to be worrying about Lysa, but her response did give some reassurance. The girls were grateful. After having the misfortune of being caught in the middle of a blizzard, they had been incredibly lucky to be found by Lysa.

“As an itinerant preacher…do you always take on such burdens? By the way, that question included a double entendre where I substituted the word ‘myself’ with ‘burden’.”

“It’s not as if I always have to carry you on my back. But it’s true that there are a lot of difficult roads that I have to take. Gusteko is just that kind of place.”

Dominated by an extreme permafrost, the Holy Kingdom of Gusteko is a land far too harsh for humans to exist in. It’s for exactly that reason that the Church protects those who cling to their beliefs. Thinking to herself, Omega smiled. After all, the Holy King Church hasn’t changed one bit in hundreds of years. I do, however, still hold an interest in its history.

“If I have the chance, I’d like to visit the Holy City.”

“I’d be most pleased if you could visit the Holy City and the Sacred Mountain at least once… But that journey holds many perils.”

“It’d be suicide in our current state, right? How amusing.”

Palmyra shot a stern look in the direction of Omega and Lysa’s conversation. “There’s nothing amusing about it!” she cried.

Omega was about to scold her on how wrong it was to eavesdrop, when Colette’s face lit up, and her arm shot forward. “Oh! Look, look, everyone! Isn’t that the church?”

Distracted by her words, the other two looked in the direction she’d indicated, but neither could see anything through the thick snow.

“The…church? I can’t see anything like that…”

“Huh? Really? I wonder why…”

“Ah, Colette. That would be due to the bracelet. I told you, didn’t I? It’ll protect you. And if it’s to protect you, it’ll even help with seeing through this wind.”

“Oh really… How odd. But thank you.” As she spoke, Colette rubbed her hand over the ominous bracelet on her right arm.

Palmyra narrowed her eyes at the explanation, but Omega ignored her. “If Colette can see it, then we must be going in the right direction. Could you lead the way?”

“…Of course! Leave it to me. Leave it all to me.”

Upon hearing Omega’s words, Colette took up position at the front of the group, seemingly happy at being relied upon.

Luckily, of the three of them, Colette had the most stamina. While it was partly due to the bracelet, this was a situation in which they could finally rely on her physical strength.

Having taken over as head of the group, Colette shoveled the snow to make a route for the rest of them, surprising Lysa with her skill. They continued along, single file, without having to worry too much about their footing, and finally reached the church.

It was difficult to fully take in its exterior due to the thick covering of snow, but the building seemed to be made from stone. It was a rare choice for a church, but an architectural style unique to the area that prevented buildings from being swept away by snowstorms. It had a comforting feeling to it—one that didn’t arise merely from the fact that it was unlikely to collapse while staying there, but more so the faint light that leaked from the windows, indicating the signs of life that lay within.

“We’re in luck, it doesn’t look like the head of the church is asleep yet either.”

“…That seems to be the case. Hello… Hello…!” Lysa called out. “Is anyone there? Hello… Hello…?”

“Hold on a second,” came a response from the other side of the door. Footsteps could be heard growing closer, and then slowly the door creaked open.

“Whoa, aren’t these some unexpected guests? A group of four women,” said a stern-looking, middle-aged man with wide eyes. At first, he had opened the door just a crack, clearly wary of the sudden appearance of strangers, but upon realizing it was a group of young girls, he swung it wide open.

“Come in, come in!” he said, inviting Omega and the others inside. “Hey! Someone bring something for them to wipe themselves with! We have guests!” the man called out, and a figure appeared from inside—an incredibly tall figure.

As that person’s silhouette came into view, Palmyra let out a shriek. She had just entered the church and was busy brushing the snow from her clothes, when he had handed her a towel. The subject of her gaze had a strange appearance.

“Whoa, how incredible,” praised Colette. “You certainly have a lot of hands, don’t you?”

“M-Multi-Arm Clan… Here… Use.”

“Thank you! That’s a great help.”

The group of girls counted two extra arms on the giant man with dark blue skin. The four arms growing from his shoulders made it clear he was a rare demi-human from the Multi-Arm Clan—a race you didn’t often see in the snowy kingdom of Gusteko.

“H-Here…take…it’s bad…if body is cold.”

“T-Thanks… Umm, I’m sorry about screaming just now,” said Palmyra. “You surprised me is all.”


Colette took the towel he handed her. The stranger from the Multi-Arm Clan didn’t seem perturbed by the extremes of Colette and Palmyra’s reactions. Omega and Lysa, also receiving towels, took him up on his kind offer and wiped the snow away.

“Even so, for a group of girls to be out at night in the middle of a blizzard… Isn’t that a little reckless?” questioned the man.

“I’m a little offended at being called reckless,” Omega replied. “When we set out, there wasn’t any sign that the weather would turn like this. It’s a little rash of you to call us as such without first knowing whether we decided to leave before or after the snow had already started.”

“Oh… Wow, you’re quite the talker…”

The man they had first met at the door was left in awe at Omega, who had protested at the slight to their honor. Seeing his reaction made Omega feel a little proud, but the other two did not seem so pleased.

“Well anyway, I’m glad you girls are safe. I’m Podoso; I’m a friendly guy who works as a guard in the town on the other side of the mountain.”

“I-I’m Admonsah… Traveling entertainer.”

The two men introduced themselves. The middle-aged man being Podoso, the Multi-Armed one being Admonsah.

Upon hearing Admonsah’s introduction, Colette’s eyes brightened. “A traveling entertainer! They’re those people, right? The ones who travel between villages and towns, showing off their skills… What kind of skill do you have? I’m so curious!”

“Uh… My…skill…is…”

“Your skill is…?”

Hounded by the overly curious Colette, Admonsah suddenly sobered, and taking a short breath in, he raised his four arms behind his back. At a speed no one could follow, he swung his arms and threw something towards the back of the church. That something being four knives he had hidden at his waist. The spinning blades flew at a terrific speed, and stuck beautifully into the four doors on each wall of the church, and he had done all that without looking. It certainly was an exceptional talent.

The problem, however, was that a woman had just emerged from the door that one of the knives had pierced. With wavy bronze hair, she stared at the knife as though it had been thrown directly at her, and opened her mouth in shock.

“What if I’d died?!” she screamed, so loud that it alone could have robbed someone of their life.


The woman screaming introduced herself as Maqueena, a minstrel. The direction of her anger was at Admonsah, who had directly risked her life with the knife throwing, and lashed out at him accordingly. “I thought I was going to die; I thought it was all over…and then I found this church, and I could finally breathe easy. And even though I knew I’d avoided freezing to death, I never imagined I’d die by a knife. You just shortened my lifespan! Why did you do that?!”


“If you ‘uh’ and ‘ah’ like that, no one can understand! Aren’t you slacking on your public speaking skills just because people are interested in your appearance? Take this more seriously!” She bit at Admonsah for a completely different reason than the knife throw.

When her attitude became intolerable, it was Lysa who cut in. “Please calm down. Admonsah bore no ill will, and you don’t seem to have sustained any injuries, Maqueena…”

“Huh?! What about the wounds on my heart? Who the hell are you to be getting involved, anyway? And what’s with those massive breasts? I’m going to touch them!”

“What a rude thing to say… Hey, you can’t say stuff like that. You can’t…”

Having merely tried to intervene, Lysa was now both flustered and hurt at having been shouted at. As Colette and Palmyra tried to console her, Omega let out a sigh. “Well, well. Seems it doesn’t matter what era it is, minstrels never change. Passionate and emotional, they don’t think about the hurt they cause as they stomp all over other people’s hearts with their dirty shoes.”

“Hey! That tiny child seems oddly pessimistic about the world. Reflecting upon the best and worst parts of humanity with that appearance…that appearance…”

Catching wind of that murmur, Maqueena—despite having switched who she was angry with—suddenly found she had lost her momentum. She looked like a somewhat unperceptive girl, but it seemed her observance skills came directly from her skills as a minstrel.

Maqueena’s round eyes noticed Omega’s sharp ears. “Y-Y-Y-You… Those ears…”

“Oh? You have quite the eye… I didn’t mean to say that as Omega just now, how foolish of me,” replied Omega with a quick wink to the trembling Maqueena, but her playfulness wasn’t really understood. Sighing, she gently pushed her peach-colored hair back, highlighting her ears. “It’s just as it looks. Although only half the blood running through my veins is elf…that still makes me half elf.”

“That’s worse! Elves are slightly preferable! Half-devil! You’re a half-devil!” Jumping around yelling, Maqueena ended up hiding behind Admonsah and Podoso. The conversation seemed to jump from topic to topic rather quickly, and it seemed rather strange for her to rely on the person she was abusing just a few moments ago.

It seemed Podoso also thought so. As his lip curled, he spoke. “Young miss… No matter what has transpired, that certainly wasn’t very polite.”

“W-W-What is with this? A snowy night, in a church, with a half-devil… Under these conditions, there’s no reason I shouldn’t start flirting with a man. I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die!”

“You’re exaggerating…”

Podoso’s face indicated how worn out he was by the fuss Maqueena was making. “I’m sorry, Miss Half-Elf. I try to be unprejudiced, but…”

“Ah, it’s no problem, really. It’s not uncommon to be treated as such. And besides…”


“People who are usually so prim and proper will give you looks filled with animosity or distrust, and all because you’re a half-elf. The feeling is surprisingly addictive.”

“I-I see… You have a lot of guts… But looking at you, Miss Half-Elf, how old are you exactly?” Upon hearing Omega’s response, Podoso began to have doubts about it.

But it was because he had so rudely inquired about her age that the group of girls concentrated their attack. He was scowled at by Palmyra, received a shake of the head by Lysa, stared at sadly by Colette, and had his foot stamped on by Maqueena. “W-What’s with this? It’s bad enough being stared at by the little ones, but why are you stepping on my foot too? You were scared of Omega until just a moment ago!”

“That was different. Men who show no consideration are bad! Huge giants are bad too! And big-breasted women! And half-devils! I have no one I can rely on,” lamented Maqueena like it was the end of the world, her head in her arms.

But it was Colette, with a kind expression, who extended a hand out to her. Kneeling in front of the crumpled Maqueena, she said, “It’s okay. Omega is a good girl, so there’s no need to be scared. Admonsah, too, has really kind eyes. Podoso…well, his lack of consideration isn’t very good…”

“J-Just me, huh…”

“But he was the first person who opened the door for us!” she added. “He added firewood, and made the fire bigger… The only thing he doesn’t understand is a woman’s heart.”

It was difficult to ascertain whether Colette was praising him or delivering the final blow, but Maqueena accepted her defense with a few sniffs.

“Do you see?” Colette went on. “Now, let’s apologize to everyone, okay? That way they can forgive us, and then they’ll let us into their circle.”

“U-Um… S-Sorryyy. I don’t want to be alone…”

At Colette’s skill at getting Maqueena to apologize, Lysa unconsciously applauded. “Wow. You managed to tame her.”

Palmyra watched with pride, and Omega moved next to her. “Are you happy Colette’s skill has finally been recognized?”

“I really hate you sometimes,” Palmyra said with a sigh.

“What?” replied Omega, astonished. “That’s the kind of comment only a sweet, empathetic girl could make…”

When an accord had been reached amongst each person who had gathered there, it was Podoso who clapped his hands together and said, “May I say something? I think we should talk as the young ladies warm themselves. Seeing as we are all stranded in this blizzard for the time being, and are temporarily borrowing this church’s roof… What do you think?”

Lysa nodded in response to his question. “I agree.”

The others voiced no complaints, and he scratched his head. “I see.”

And as he scratched the short, green hair atop his head, his expression was somewhat somber.

“Do you have something that’s concerning you?” Omega asked.

“N—Actually, the pastor who should be living in this church doesn’t seem to be here. Pastor Coatl is a great man, but…”

“Pastor Coatl…” At Podoso’s words of admiration, Omega looked around at the church’s interior. The place of worship had a direct connection to those who had greeted them at the door—the seven people who were currently warming themselves inside. There existed a section inside the church dedicated to the pastor’s living quarters, but it didn’t seem particularly large. At least, it certainly didn’t seem large enough to conceal a fully grown man.

“Did you come here to see Pastor Coatl, Podoso?” asked Omega.

“Huh? Oh, yes, I did,” he replied. “That’s because…there’s been lots of heavy snow. The pastor lives alone, so it could be bad if anything happened.”

“Hmm. You worried for his well being in case anything happened to him. I see.” Thinking over Podoso’s words, Omega’s eyes narrowed.

At that gesture, Podoso furrowed his brows curiously but wasn’t given any time to question it. Catching up with the conversation, Maqueena leapt to her feet. “That’s right! I also came here to see Pastor Coatl. I plan on writing a song about him—the hero who saved the local town!”

“…Umm, I also came here to see Pastor Coatl,” added Lysa.

“Really? How similar we are, Big Breasts! I’m not happy about it, though!”

“Could you come up with a different name, please?”

Learning that they were searching for the same person, the mutual dislike that had built up between Maqueena and Lysa was put to rest.

In any case, it seemed like everyone wished to see Pastor Coatl.

“Did you also come to see the pastor, Admonsah?” asked Colette.

“N-No, not…me,” he replied. “I’m…an…outsider.”

“Did you plan to meet him?”


Becoming rather close in such a short period of time, Colette translated his words for the rest of them. Watching this scene unfold happily, Palmyra tilted her head and interjected. “But Pastor Coatl isn’t in the church. It’s rather concerning.”

“Well, the pastor has lived here for a long time, so he should understand the dangers of heavy snow. He’s probably just gone out.” As he spoke, Podoso turned his attention to the sound of the blizzard billowing outside the church.

As time went on, the blizzard only got worse.

I don’t wish to scare the others, but even a person experienced in this sort of weather would be swallowed up by the tremendous snowfall. I’m unsure what type of person this Pastor Coatl is, but long life doesn’t necessarily mean a high survival rate. “Even supposing that was true, it doesn’t explain jeopardizing his life to go out like this… But then, I died at the age of 19, so I could be wrong.”

“H-Hold on a second, what are you muttering about? Half-devils are scary.”

“It’s exactly because I’m half devil that I’m muttering—I’m deciding on how to eat you.”

“Eeeeek! A cannibal! A cannibaaaal!” Falling over onto her back with a crash, Maqueena was so surprised she almost wet herself.

Omega was pleased with the result of her teasing, but her prank was, of course, questioned.

“That’s not okay, Omega,” admonished Lysa. “It’s not fun to scare people like that.”

“Whoops, I seem to have forgotten my manners in front of a member of the church. This is a home for followers of the Holy King Church, after all. Should I receive a punishment for my insolence?” Omega shrugged at Lysa, who had scolded her for her behavior towards Maqueena.

Lysa, however, shook her head. “No. I’m not the head of this church; that would be Pastor Coatl. It isn’t my place to lecture you…but anyone with good sense should correct the mistakes of children, regardless of the teachings. That’s what I think.”

Accepting Lysa’s sincere opinion, Omega lowered her head. “…I see. The one without tact was solely me. I apologize.” The others surrounding them—including Colette and Palmyra—were astonished by her apology. “…Why exactly do you all look so surprised?” she asked.

“I wasn’t aware that you could apologize.”

“It does make me begin to reflect on things when it’s said by Colette rather than Palmyra.”

“You should reflect no matter who says it!” Palmyra barked at Omega, who was teasing her. Colette soothed her.

Ignoring the two girls, Omega continued. “Even then, Podoso called him a hero, and Lysa and Maqueena both said they came to see him, but is Pastor Coatl really that great of a person?”

“I have heard this, but—”

“Oh, oh, oh? Is it myyy turn? Let me explain!”

Maqueena’s nostrils had flared up at Omega’s question, and she leaped upon her own luggage, from which she pulled the popular stringed instrument of a minstrel—a lyulyre.

“What I speak of from now will be of the great disaster that struck this region and the story of the single clergyman who stood up against it! How sad! How saaad!”

As she sang, so did the story of Pastor Coatl begin—how he was adored by the people of the town and how he came to be known as a hero. But, regardless of the content, it was better not to mention Maqueena’s abilities in singing or storytelling.


This region was once struck by a huge avalanche, and a town was destroyed in the chaos. At that time, Pastor Coatl came running to the site of the incident without delay, and after successfully saving several lives, he offered up his savings to help restore what had been damaged. Afterward, he moved to a nearby church and continued to watch over the town.

“Is how I’d roughly summarize Maqueena’s song.”

“Huh? Why do you need to summarize it? I sang my heart out; it was full of emotion. Are you displeased somehow? Are you saying it’s lacking somehow?!” Having had her song summarized in such an unimaginative way, Maqueena raised a complaint. However, there wasn’t a single person who came to her defense, so one could very much imagine the quality of the song.

Anyway, the circumstances surrounding Pastor Coatl, at least, were satisfactory.

“That avalanche happened ten years ago…” explained Podoso. “The pastor, at that time, never took himself into consideration when carrying out the rescue operations. That’s how he lost his leg… And since then, he’s lived here.”

“Wow, that’s incredible. He really was an impressive man, wasn’t he?”

“Yes… Impressive. I think… Incredible.”

Admonsah and Colette clapped their hands together, under their complete mutual understanding. While their thoughts were completely in sync, Palmyra and the others hummed with far less enthusiasm.

“It seems Palmyra takes no interest in this,” commented Omega.

“Not really,” began Palmyra, “I neither liked it nor disliked it… I don’t think it was particularly interesting enough to be made into a song, though… That was a song, right? It sounded sort of like a song.”

“Yes, yes, that’s right!” exclaimed Maqueena. “Huh? What’s that? Was it a song? What do you mean?”

“Getting an answer to that question will only hurt you. Anyway, what’s that?” Palmyra was rather fed up with Maqueena’s snapping. Her caring nature was exactly why she could never become a bad person, but this place was an exception.

Encouraged by Palmyra, Maqueena slapped the lyulyre with the palm of her hand and exclaimed, “Actually, ‘The Saint of the Avalanche’ that I just sang isn’t very popular at the moment. The general opinion is that something is lacking from the climax of the story. So that’s why I came here!”

“That’s why you came to meet the pastor? Why?” questioned Podoso.

“Because I thought that the main character of the story would have more information to expand the story with! I’ll incorporate it into the story, and my song will be one step ahead of the others! That’s my goal!” Suddenly tightening her hand into a fist, Maqueena disclosed her aspirations freely. Then, weakly unclenching the fist, she groaned pitifully. “But…If I don’t manage to do that, there’s nothing in Gusteko for me to do. Lately, so many interesting things have been happening in Lugunica; it seems like there’s no end of subjects for songs.”

“Ahh, I have heard about stories coming from there, like the Royal Selection, the White Whale of the Three Great Witchbeasts, and the Great Rabbit,” added Podoso. “They’d probably be pretty easy to write songs about.”

“That certainly is a problem. If you’re going to do something interesting, do it over here, Mr. Unknown Hero.” Notwithstanding her grumblings, Maqueena’s despicable intentions were clear.

Omega looked over at Lysa. “Lysa, what was your reason for wanting to see the pastor?”

“…Actually, for the same reasons Maqueena spoke of. It’s a shame, really.”

Casting her eyes downwards, Omega sympathized with Lysa, who looked sorrowful. “I see… That’s indeed a shame.”

However, in this case, it didn’t mean making a song, but rather hearing the truth about the Saint of the Avalanche.

“Pastor Coatl’s name is famous even within the Church,” Lysa continued. “He was originally an itinerant preacher, just like me… I’d like to learn from my predecessor.”

“I see. Being so hardworking is a good thing. You should keep it up.”

“I can never guess what you’re going to say, Miss, but… Well, I get what you mean,” Podoso replied, giving a big clap and settling the conversation. “It’s a shame the pastor isn’t here, but perhaps another day would be better… By the way, did you three girls come here together? What for, exactly?”

“We were all chased out of our homes,” Omega explained. “My reason is exactly as you see. As for these two, it was because they were my close friends… Well, would you look at that? It’s all my fault. Ha-ha-ha, I’m sorry I was even born.”

“It doesn’t seem like something to laugh about…” It had been her plan to make a hilarious joke, but unexpectedly, the atmosphere had soured.

Ignoring Omega, Colette called out to Maqueena. Her eyes were full of curiosity as she asked, “Do you have any other stories bar the saint one? I’m curious.”

“There aren’t many stories connected with this area… Ah, then shall I perform a story with a bit more adventure? It’s about the Ice Thieves.”

Colette tilted her head. “The Ice Thieves?”

Despite her previous negative experiences, Maqueena laughed and readied her lyulyre. Omega once again prepared herself for a truly awful performance, but Admonsah suddenly grabbed hold of the instrument and held it high into the air.

“Ah, hey, what are you doing?!”

“Oo… Everyone hates. No. I…won’t forgive.”

“Hate is a bit of a strong word!” Maqueena jumped up and down, but their height difference prevented her from retrieving the lyulyre. Eventually, having used up all her energy, she crumbled to the ground.

Taking over for the minstrel, who could no longer perform, Podoso cleared his throat. “The Ice Thieves is quite an old legend. A long time ago, there was a group of thieves who wreaked havoc in this area. The things they stole were hidden away very, very carefully. But one day, their cave got buried in an avalanche, and they became unable to retrieve their treasures.”

“In other words,” started Omega, “the moral of this story is that you shouldn’t hoard treasures without using them.”

“What moral? No, there are only idiots in this story,” Podoso said nonchalantly, declaring the characters in the story foolish. It might be the truth, but it was a rather blunt way of putting it.

“But, but… There were probably lots of gems and money amongst the treasure, right? And they’re all buried under the ice? It’s sort of exciting.”

Colette lightly pressed a hand to her chest—a gesture that Admonsah copied.

“Mmyes… exciting…”

“That’s true,” Lysa joined in, drawing in her chin. “I’ve heard that many people have tried to get their hands on the thieves’ stash. If found, it’d be worth a fortune, after all.”

“No matter the era, people’s sense of value is always so ridiculous,” Omega chimed in. “Nobody seems to understand what is necessary in order to live a full life.”

“What a profound opinion,” said Lysa. “Then what do you think is necessary in life, Omega?”

“It’s obvious—entertainment.”


At Omega’s immediate reply, Lysa and the others made a face.

But compared to the story’s content so far, this reaction was far more unexpected to Omega. “I don’t want to be the odd one out here, but that just now was not a joke. The thing people need to live a full life is entertainment. You could consider it a way to make life worth living. It does dictate your life, after all.”

“Then, how do you satisfy your heart’s desire?” asked Maqueena.

“By fighting ignorance. By learning of that which I do not know. I am the embodiment of a thirst for knowledge. Whether it be something I don’t know, or someone I don’t know… I long for every unknown,” Omega answered with a smile.

Maqueena, having listened to the answer to her question, considered it stupid and shrugged her shoulders. Both Podoso and Admonsah gave a curious laugh, but Colette and Palmyra were not laughing. Or, more accurately, they could not. The two of them knew Omega’s true character, after all. If they were to laugh at that, that would make them nothing more than reckless fools.

“Not that I’m the type to get angry at something as small as that, but…” Omega said with a small sigh.

But her sigh was quickly drowned out by Maqueena’s voice as she made her way into the church. “Ahh, I’m tired of talking about this… I have things to do.”

“Hey,” Podoso called out to her back. “Wait, wait. Where are you going? With it being so cold, you’re better off staying here.”

“Huh? Oh, yeah. I just need to take care of something real quick.”

“Take care of what? Pastor Coatl isn’t here, so what could you possibly need to…”

“You idiot! Don’t make me say it! I’m going to the toilet!” Having exposed her destination, Maqueena flung her towel at Podoso.

The towel smacked him right in the face, which he caught as it slid off. “Sorry…”

“Hah! As long as you are, then that’s fine. I’m off…”

“I’ll go with you,” Podoso announced. “Admonsah, I can leave the young ladies in your care, yes?”

“Huh?! I’m fine! I can go to the toilet by myself!”

Podoso’s attempt to go with her had astonished Maqueena. But despite her protests, he had a rather serious face as he spoke. “It’s okay,” he said, patting the girl’s shoulder. “You don’t need to act so modest. If I’m there, you won’t need to feel uneasy.”

“It’d make me more uneasy if you did come!” exclaimed Maqueena. “Hey, someone—anyone! Is no one on my side here…?”

“The gentleman is insisting,” asserted Omega, “and I must say, it isn’t very ladylike for you to continue refusing.”

“Quit saying stuff you don’t mean, half-devil!” In response to Omega’s insincere observation, Maqueena’s attitude soured, but then she wasn’t in a situation that would allow her to be patient. Glancing at Podoso—who showed no indication of backing down—she stamped her foot in submission. “Oh, alright! Fine, you can come along, pervert! But don’t think I’ll let you do whatever you want!”

“Aren’t you already letting him do what he wants?” Palmyra pointed out.

“Shut it, brat! You’ll have to go through the same thing soon enough!”

Maqueena and Podoso headed for the back of the church after pointing to Palmyra and giving one last parting threat.

As soon as they left, the atmosphere instantly relaxed around them, but it was not merely the foulmouthed Maqueena that had caused the tension in the air…

“Did Podoso seem nervous to you?” Colette asked with a tilt of her head. She was spot on. Unrelated to Maqueena’s attitude, Podoso had been strangely on edge. Accompanying Maqueena to the bathroom was definitely part of it, but it seemed as though he was concerned about something.

“Do you know anything about it, Admonsah?”

Admonsah shook his head. “N…o…”

He may have been enormous, and part of the Multi-Arm Clan that specialized in fighting, but his disposition was actually rather gentle.

“Well, if anything happens, then I’ll deal with it.”

“…Would that be possible, Lysa?”

“I’m an itinerant preacher, and a woman who travels alone as I do must be able to protect herself,” replied Lysa, flashing Palmyra a smile and tensing her bicep.

There wasn’t much to see on her arm, but there was definitely some truth to her words. Traveling alone as a woman was dangerous. That was part of why Omega had taken Colette and Palmyra with her—it hadn’t been solely because of how lonely it was to travel without companions.

“Anyway, nothing will happen to us when we’re gathered together in one place like this. If it comes to it, I’ll also show my true strength.”

“Your true strength… I’ll rely on you then,” answered Lysa, seeming rather amused by Omega’s remark.

She had most likely taken it as the drivel of a young girl, but Colette and the others who knew of her true strength gave a wry smile.

And just as the conversation had calmed down a little, so did the situation change. Abruptly, a noise could be heard as someone struck the church entrance from outside. “Excuse meee, hellooo. Open uuuup!”

“Seems like a new guest has arrived,” Omega observed.

The voice on the other side of the door was that of a young man. It seemed like there was another like Omega’s group, who had headed for the church in the midst of the blizzard.

After a brief moment of surprise, Lysa stood up.

“W-We’re opening it?” someone voiced in worry.

“…Yes, this is a church. It’s a place open to all. We’ll explain it to Podoso and Maqueena later,” explained Lysa before half-jogging to the door.

Admonsah, who had also gotten to his feet, dug for a fresh towel in his bag and brought it over. He’d given Omega and the others a towel each, yet he still seemed to have more with him. From the size of his luggage, it was entirely possible he carried the bags for the entirety of his group. Either way, the door to the church was opened, and a new character was ushered in by Lysa.

The newcomer flashed a radiant smile as he spoke. “Pheew. Thank you, thank you. I’m saved. I thought it was just going to be some light snow… I had no idea it’d be this heavy. How unlucky. What a pain.”

He was a young man in his early twenties, with moderately-long ashen hair tied behind his head, and gentle features that exuded charm. As he wiped the snow from his clothes with the towel Admonsah had given him, he spotted Omega’s group and raised an eyebrow. “Sorry if I startled anyone. I’m a humble peddler who goes by Trellock. Well, you can call me a peddler, but I’m currently destitute.”

Out of curiosity, Colette asked, “Destitute… You mean you have nothing on you? How did that happen?”

“Well, you see, young lady. It’s a terribly sad story… To cut it short, my wagon got stuck in the snow, and I was reluctantly forced to abandon it. Of course, I plan to go find it once the snow stops, but let’s hope it’s not buried,” Trellock answered with a laugh.

It was clearly a personal story that involved feelings of loss, but the young man who told it—Trellock—exhibited no signs of sadness, leaving Colette and Palmyra unsure of how to respond.

At the girls’ clouded expressions, Trellock flashed a smile and laughed. “Anyway… if it’s possible, I’d like to spend the night. Who’s in charge here? As it’s a church, I’m guessing this young lady right here, yes?”

“Ah, no, you’re wrong. I’m an itinerant preacher; the head of this church is someone else…” Waving her hands, Lysa explained her position and attempted to do the same for Omega and the others once more. However…

A scream cut across the church, interrupting their introductions.


It was Maqueena’s scream.

Although it wouldn’t have been totally out of character for her to behave in such an erratic manner every time she used the bathroom, her scream was steeped in chaos and fear. Even as a spur of the moment performance, it seemed somewhat out-of-place.

“…Everyone, wait here!” Turning stiffly, Lysa’s usually calm face was intense as she headed for the back of the church. In the wake of her pale face, Omega sprinted after her.

“Hey!” Palmyra shouted. “We were told to wait…”

“Palmyra! We’re going too!” Tugging Palmyra’s arm, Colette followed after them.

The sounds of Trellock’s bewilderment could be heard in their wake.

The back of the chapel led into Coatl’s living quarters. It contained a cramped living room, bedroom, bathroom, and another corridor that joined with the storeroom next door; however, Podoso and Maqueena could not be seen anywhere within the small area. There was certainly not enough space to have missed them, but the answer to the question as to why was soon discovered.

A section of the wall in the hallway had been slightly dislodged, and a small amount of light leaked through.

“A hidden passage…? It seems like it heads underground.”

“Omega, why are you here… Well, anyway, I’ll go first.” Realizing that attempting to stop her would be futile, Lysa widened the gap in the wall and descended the stairs.

Following after her, Omega and the others headed underground too.

They hadn’t gone far when they came across two figures.


One was frozen in place—Podoso—while the other that had sunk to the floor was Maqueena. Both had their backs turned, with their undivided attention focused on what was in front of them. In the gloomy basement, the only light came from a lagmite crystal—an ore that glowed upon impact. Amongst the dim light, Omega and the others finally saw what the two were staring at.

It was the sturdy body of a middle aged man—or rather, his corpse.

With his head split open, he lay in a pool of blood and spinal fluid. Cruel as it was to think so—with his legs in the position they were and his body so limp, a single glance was enough to know that it was already too late.

Seeing the dead body, a strangled sound came from Colette and Palmyra. Beside Omega, Lysa stiffened, her breath caught in her throat, and the corners of her usually gentle eyes tightened.

Maqueena, who had fallen over, was on the verge of tears. “H—h—h—w—why…”

Podoso’s face was pale, and his lips quivered as he spoke, calling out the name of the victim. “Pastor…Coatl…” Then, with a face expressing greater shock than when he learned of the pastor’s death, he fought to get his words out. “You really were inside the church…”

Admonsah and Trellock appeared on the stairs following the thundering sound of their approaching footsteps. And as they laid eyes on what everyone else had, they were also at a loss for words.

“T-T-This…” stuttered Admonsah.

“Ah?! A person? Is he dead? W-Wait a second, what the hell is going on?!”

The two men were terrified. In particular the one who had just arrived, sincerely lacking in luck—Trellock.

No, it might not be as straightforward as it seems. Amongst those expressing their confusion at the sight of the corpse, Omega closed one eye. Then, at no one in particular, began speaking. “So it seems that a cold-blooded killer—whether male or female—may be planning to murder us all.”

Then, fanning the flames of worry and confusion in the group, she gave a vicious sneer, worthy of a witch.


In the cold basement of the church lay the body of an old man with his head split in two. At the center of the group who had fallen into chaos at the sight was a young girl with long, peach-colored hair. She smiled in slight amusement, letting loose an evil cackle as she said, “So it seems that a cold-blooded killer—whether male or female—may be planning to murder us all.”

“Hey, Omega! Even with your bad taste in humor, this isn’t funny.”

The witch’s companion, Palmyra, scolded her for her insensitive comment, and hugged their other companion, Colette, who passed an unsteady gaze over the dead body. “B-Besides, is he really dead…? Are you sure you’re not mistaken?”

“Unfortunately, humans tend to die when they get their heads cracked open, contents spilling out. Well, there may be a handful who don’t, but I don’t think this old man is one of them.” Stopping Palmyra’s fleeting hope in its tracks, Omega’s eyes moved over to the figure beside the corpse.

Podoso was a middle-aged man who worked as a guard in a town on the other side of the snowy mountains. And from what they’d discussed up until now, he was the only person who may have had a relationship with the owner of this church.

“Given the current situation, I’m guessing that the dead man would be Pastor Coatl, yes?”

“…A-Ah, yes. That’s right. This is… Pastor Coatl.”

“I see. The owner we thought was absent was actually already dead, right beneath our feet.”

“H-H-H-Half-devil! W-W-Why are you so calm?! S-S-Someone has died… Died!”

Listening to Podoso’s answer, Omega nodded in understanding before her shoulder was seized violently. The young woman who grabbed her had a pallid expression and brown hair—it was the minstrel, Maqueena. With her pale face, she shook Omega’s slender shoulders back and forth relentlessly. “What was with that remark earlier?! What did you mean?! Cold-blooded killer? Murder us all?!”

“Sorry, I got a little carried away. I shouldn’t have said that. So stop freaking out and calm down—my head is about to fall off.”

“How dare you! You’re telling me to calm down?! In this situation?!”

“Calm down, Maqueena. She’s just a child.” A woman in black church vestments intervened, grabbing the crying Maqueena’s hand.

Lysa was an itinerant preacher, but despite her gentle demeanor, she yanked Maqueena’s arm with great force.

Both Lysa and the one she was restraining—Maqueena—had come to this church seeking shelter from the blizzard. There were also two others in the room who were in the same position.

“U—A… Person…dead… child… can’t…look.”

“Ah, Admonsah…”

Blocking Colette and the other’s view was the traveling entertainer from the Multi-Arm Clan. He had a large build, blue skin, and went by the name of Admonsah. And from behind him, a man with ashen hair and a gentle nature peered into the room—the peddler, Trellock.

Trellock gasped, scrunching up his face at the gruesome scene before him. “When I heard the scream, I didn’t expect to come across this… I only planned on staying here for a night. What a thing to stumble upon…”

“Don’t make light of the situation… Who the hell are you, anyways?! Why is there yet another face I don’t know?!” Podoso shouted, confronting Trellock.

Trellock raised his hands in surrender. “Whoa, whoa, whoa…that’s what you’re upset about?!”

He had arrived at the church just as Podoso and Maqueena had left to go to the bathroom. With such unfortunate timing, it was only natural for Podoso to be wary of him.

“Podoso, please wait,” Lysa intervened. “We can explain his situation. But before we do that…”

“Before we do that?!” Podoso exclaimed. “What could be more important than seizing a suspicious character in this situa—”

“We should do something about the deceased,” Lysa interrupted, dampening Podoso’s vigor.

The old man’s fallen body in her line of sight was too painful to look at.

“Ah, I’ll get a sheet,” offered Maqueena. “It’ll be easier emotionally if we can’t see him. Hey, get out of the way—there’s one in the wooden crate behind you!”


Shoving Admonsah aside, Maqueena pulled a sheet from a crate in the corner of the basement. It didn’t seem particularly clean, but this wasn’t a situation in which they could afford to be picky. She quickly covered the body with the sheet, and surprisingly, even went out of her way to shut his eyes.

“Oh, how unexpected. You lot live to sing about the failures and achievements of the dead—I wasn’t aware you were physically able to feel respect for them.”

“Huh? Are you looking for a fight? For the record, anyone that manages to go through life thinking over every single consequence would never make it as a minstrel, you bastard!”

“Hey, wait! Please don’t fight!” Colette’s voice was thick with anguish as she attempted to stop Omega and Maqueena from further distressing the situation. She shook her head with teary eyes. “Stop quarreling in front of the deceased. That’s not okay. You’re a good girl, aren’t you, Omega? You understand, right?”

“I have things I’d like to say about the way you’re speaking to me, but… It’s not something I want to say so bad that it’s worth making you cry, Colette. I’ll stop. Besides, there’s something that I’m curious about.”

“Can’t you just apologize properly… What are you curious about?” Palmyra asked Omega, who had lost the will to fight, in a chastising tone.

Omega looked directly at Podoso. “It’s pretty simple.” He stiffened under the young girl’s gaze as the witch opened her lips. “You said something rather interesting a little while ago. I have a feeling you know more about the situation than us. But to what extent?”


“I told you that I was a guard in a town on the other side of the mountain, right? Well, actually, there was an incident near the town yesterday. I came to visit Pastor Coatl in order to inform him of what happened.”

They left the basement where the body still lay and returned to the church, which was where Podoso now told his story. Pressed for an answer by Omega, he gave up all resistance and explained the true reason he had come to the church: to alert Pastor Coatl.

After considering his situation and his murmuring in the basement, Omega asked, “You said there was an incident near the town. Is it safe to assume it was a murder? Don’t ask me how I know that.”

“Well, it must be obvious after seeing the corpse. What else could it be?” Trellock pointed out, a hand on his chin.

At their conversation, Podoso nodded in agreement, covering his face with his hands. “The corpse was in a terrible state. The face was unrecognizable. I could barely tell it was a traveler, and all their belongings had been stolen…”

“A corpse without a face and without any identification on him…huh… It’s still not enough.”


Podoso hardened his expression at Omega’s mutterings. But Palmyra objected with a tilt of her head and an exclamation of “Huh?!” Consoling the frightened Colette, she glared at Omega with a stern eye. “Omega, you’re being too cryptic. If you know something, then tell us. It’ll put both Colette and me at ease.”

“I’ve said this before, but that look of anguish on your faces, it’s…”

“Amusing, right? We know.”

Faintly drawing her eyebrows together, Palmyra fixed her gaze on Omega. The pleas of this young girl, so brave at only fifteen—the same age as Colette—left Omega with no choice but to surrender. It would not be beneficial to spoil the high spirits of her two traveling companions. There would be no one to save her if she fell into a snowbank, slipped into a river, or burned herself in a fire.

“Frankly, Podoso’s reaction to seeing Pastor Coatl’s body and the circumstances revolving around seeing the body of the faceless traveler do not match up,” stated Omega. “It’s a bit excessive for a single corpse.”

“…S-S-So what are you saying?” Maqueena asked.

“This is just speculation, but…am I correct in assuming that the death of the traveler isn’t the first murder case?”

“…You have very good eyes, young lady.” Podoso dropped his shoulders in resignation and let out a long breath. Then, raising his head, his gaze wandered as he searched for the right words. “I didn’t want to scare anyone off if there had been nothing to worry about. But after Pastor Coatl was killed, I knew I couldn’t keep quiet… That’s why I’m telling you. Just as you thought, young lady. In the past few weeks, seven people have been killed in the area…and the pastor makes eight.”

“E-Eight?!” exclaimed Maqueena. “You kept quiet about eight whole deaths?!”

“As far as I knew, there were seven… I suppose that doesn’t make it any better, though.” The point of his story lost its focus, and Podoso shook his head languidly.

Maqueena, after lashing out at him, turned her cautious gaze on everyone in the church. The fear and strain in her bloodshot eyes made her intentions obvious.

“Ah, miss… Are you suspecting all of us, by any chance?” Trellock asked with an air of discretion, taking note of Maqueena’s evident alarm. However, his composed tone had the opposite effect on her.

“Of course I am!” she snapped. “Who did it?! Who killed that old man?!”

“C-Calm down, Maqueena,” Podoso said. “Pastor Coatl was murdered by a cold-blooded killer…”

“Which means the cold-blooded killer is among us! Are you insane?!”


Maqueena shook off Podoso’s attempts to calm her down, her voice only growing louder. He was lost for words, but she had more to say. “The blood on the old man’s corpse wasn’t even dry! That would mean the murder occurred pretty recently, right? Right? Then he was killed after the snow started falling!”

“The snow turned into a blizzard immediately. So if the culprit left the church, he’d have had to trudge through the middle of a blizzard,” Lysa calmly assessed the situation.

“Ha-hah…” Trellock exhaled. “That would be suicide. If it were me, I’d turn back and wait it out in the church… Maybe the culprit did that too.”

Maqueena seemed to grasp the situation. Lysa and Trellock sided with her understanding of the events. Podoso, pressed into silence, was unable to present any counter-arguments. Admonsah was horrified at the realization.

“Hey, Omega.” Tugging at Omega’s sleeve, Colette’s eyes grew with concern and doubt. “Is it true what the others are saying? Could the bad person who murdered that old man really be here?”

“It’s highly likely,” Omega replied. “Of course, there’s a chance they’re hiding somewhere we can’t find them—just like where Pastor Coatl’s body was—but it’s hard to believe there’s another basement like that. Speaking of which, how did you find that place?”

“Huh? Oh, that was Maqueena,” Podoso explained. “I was waiting in the corridor while she finished her business, when she noticed the light leaking through the wall…ouch!” Maqueena kicked him for yet another insensitive remark.

He truly is a man who never learns. But that isn’t important now.

“A lagmite crystal was used to light the basement, right?” Omega picked up where they left off. “If it was still on, that means the crime was committed in the last few hours.”

“Umm… I was wondering, but what sort of group are you?”

“Ah, that’s right—you wouldn’t know anything about us, Trellock. Umm, well we all sort of gathered at the church by chance due to the blizzard…”

Palmyra took it upon herself to give a thorough explanation of everything Trellock had missed up until now, including unnecessary details such as Omega’s close-calls with death in the snow and the fire in her agitation.

“This may not mean anything, but in what order did you all arrive in?” Trellock asked, after receiving an explanation of the preceding events from Palmyra.

“Ah, I was first!” Maqueena answered. “Then that old guy Podoso appeared, and then that Multi-Arm Clan guy. Then it was…”

“Myself and Omega’s group,” Lysa continued. “The four of us arrived together.”

“I see,” replied Trellock. “But that doesn’t guarantee anything. You could have killed the pastor in the church, attempted to descend the mountain, then given up and come back… You’re not an exception.”

“Ouch.” Failing to clear her name, Lysa’s shoulders slumped.

Such an alibi was completely useless here. Not even Trellock, the last to arrive, was exempt.

“But those of us who have always been together in groups, like me, Colette, Palmyra, can’t be the suspects.” Omega suggested. “I mean, unless the serial killer terrorizing the public happens to be a gang of three innocent young girls.”

“Well, we’re not doubting that,” Podoso chimed in. “Apart from the half-elf girl, there’s no way those two could do such a thing. Especially Miss Colette.”

“…? Why especially me?”

“Besides, I saw the body with my own eyes… That blow was way too high to have been a woman or child,” Podoso explained.

Omega tilted her head; Podoso paled and swallowed. The look of horror on his face was a testament to the gruesome corpse he had seen. “It feels cruel to ask you this, but… I’d like to hear more about the incidents,” she asked. “In particular regarding the techniques of the killer.”

“The techniques… You mean how they were killed? How would that help?”

“I’m just curious… I figured you’d give me that look, so I prepared a justification: Knowing might also help expose the killer.”

Being met with such a blatantly disapproving frown, Omega pushed forward with a pretense. Nevertheless, although his skepticism persisted, he began to speak gradually. “The victims until now seem to have all been outsiders—either peddlers or travelers,” he explained. “Their faces had all been smashed in, and they were stranded on the side of the road. There seemed to be no bias towards women or men.”

“Outsiders, and smashed faces… Podoso, did you think Pastor Coatl was in danger because he lived alone?”

“Yeah, exactly. I thought being alone put him at risk.”

“There were seven victims near your town, and the pastor made eight. Was the seventh victim’s face the only thing damaged?”

“No, his body was… Hey, what sort of question is that?” Podoso vexed as he rubbed his chest as if growing ill from the awful recollection of events.

Omega shrugged. “The seventh victim was covered in injuries, while Pastor Coatl only had his head split open. Don’t you think the killing techniques are different?”

“Why does that matter?” questioned Podoso. “Killers aren’t right in the head—seems only natural that we wouldn’t understand their methods.”

“That viewpoint is way too simple,” Omega explained. “By most people’s standards, a killer’s behavior is abnormal. But to the murderer themselves, there’s a reason for their actions. In other words, murderers have their own standards. Same as witches.”

“Why mention witches now….? How creepy,” Maqueena added, distracted by the end of Omega’s explanation.

Ignoring her, Omega focused on the differences in the techniques of the latest two crimes she had heard from Podoso.

The possibility of the murderer forcing their way down the mountain in this blizzard was low. From that, she worked her way backwards from the events that had transpired, and began putting it all together.

“Admonsah, I have something to ask you.”

At Omega’s words, the youth from the Multi-Arm Clan pointed all four of his hands towards himself in question. “Oh…um…M-Me?”

“Yes, you. I believe you to be an honest young man. So you will answer my questions willingly, right?” Omega continued, smiling at him. “The seventh victim that was found near Podoso’s town… I believe you might have killed them. What do you think?”


Astonished at the question, the blue-skinned giant fell silent, affirming Omega’s accusation as ninety percent certain.

“H-Hey, what do you mean, calling Admonsah the murderer?” Podoso asked in surprise.

“So when did he kill the old man?!” Maqueena asked, equally puzzled.

“That’s a bit of a leap. That seventh victim… Well, in this case, it’s not actually correct to refer to him as such, seeing as his death had nothing to do with the other serial killer victims. It’s actually quite convenient that Admonsah here had something to do with the seventh victim,” Omega said, closing one eye.

Her explanation was an attempt to keep the agitated Podoso and Maqueena in check. But they were bewildered by this answer. Omega heaved a sigh.

“In short,” Trellock surmised, “the serial murders the guard mentioned, and the old man in the basement…you’re saying those are completely unrelated to the victim found in the nearby town? There were three different incidents?”

Palmyra added, “The serial murders, the victim in the town, and the one in the church…those three?”

Trellock and Palmyra worked together to summarize the explanation they just heard. Colette’s eyes widened upon hearing this, and she looked Admonsah’s huge frame up and down. “Admonsah?”

“Uh…I-I am…” Admonsah averted his eyes, a painful expression that, combined with his lack of denial, proved Omega’s speculation to be true.

“I was curious about his large baggage,” Omega admitted. “At first, I thought he was holding the luggage for an entire entertainment troupe. But then, I didn’t see the one person who should have been there in sight.”

“The one person who should be there?” asked Colette. “You mean…?”

“It’s obvious. The slave owner.”

The moment she uttered the word ‘slave’, Admonsah’s whole body shook. But it wasn’t out of anger; it was a subconscious reaction to his pain, or having his secret exposed.

“Did you say…slave?” Lysa asked. “But slaves are—”

“—not allowed in Gusteko?” Omega cut her off. “Maybe not officially, but in reality, they exist. And Admonsah is one of them. He doesn’t cloak his entire body in a long robe because of the region’s extreme cold. The traditional garb of the Multi-Arm Clan is quite distinctive, after all.”

“Distinctive?” Lysa replied.

“Their number of arms vary, so they don’t have any one-size-fits-all garments. It would also be difficult to use the garb of another clan. So they dress lightly because they must. That fact wouldn’t even change if they left their family. However, the reason he doesn’t dress that way is rather simple.”


As Omega explained with one finger up, Admonsah trembled in fear. But his tongue-tied attempt to stop her had no effect. Omega narrowed her eyes and continued without mercy.

The reason Admonsah is clad in such a long robe is rather simple.

“It’s to hide the scars from his abuse as a slave. Under those garments, he’s likely covered in wounds. There may be traces of burns around his neck, too, a side effect from the scalding caused by those Collars of Submission they wear. If punished too often, they may even lose the ability to speak.”

“U…A…” Raising his voice at that, Admonsah sank to his knees.

Head in his hands, he tore his cloak off his back, baring his skin for all to see. Everyone was at a loss for words.

Admonsah’s body was covered in scars. Even his neck revealed twisted, white burns. Just as Omega had predicted, evidence of long term abuse.

“How terrible…” Palmyra commented inadvertently, clasping her hands over her mouth.

Fresh scars also adorned Admonsah’s body before them, most likely the result of a whip.

“…It’s all true. This must be what the half-devil was talking about, right?” While everyone else focused on Admonsah’s wounds, Trellock went a different route, holding something up for them to see.

It was a collar taken directly from Admonsah’s belongings—the so-called Collar of Submission, used to restrain slaves. Fastened around the neck, it was used by the owner to administer electric shocks when slaves were disobedient. It was clearly something that Admonsah had worn for many years.

“So you found a chance to remove it,” Omega noted. “I imagine the victim near the village was Admonsah’s owner. From the wounds all over his body, he must have found himself in an unfortunate situation and fought back. His entire body was crushed…”

“A reflection of the extent of his hatred, I guess,” remarked Podoso. Omega remained indifferent to his dumbfounded mumblings.

Admonsah, who had curled up, lifted his face at those words. “Y-You’re…”

“You’re wrong!” Colette shouted, cutting him off. “Totally wrong! You’re completely wrong, Omega!”


Colette stood before him, arms spread out protectively as she faced the other adults.

“How is she wrong, Colette?” Lysa inquired. “Admonsah’s guilt seems to have been proven immediately by Omega…”

“That may very well be,” Colette continued. “But even if Admonsah was involved in one of these deaths as Omega said, it wasn’t out of hate! Right?!”


Colette turned to Admonsah, their eyes level. His throat tightened at her question. However, she wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. “I understand how difficult, and painful, and lonely it must have been. I, too, have had terrible thoughts in the past…but feeling sad and feeling hate are two very different things.”


“Explain as best as you can,” Colette said sincerely. “Don’t worry. I’ll listen to you. Nobody will interrupt. So please, tell us your story.”

Still in her embrace, Admonsah cleared his throat and swallowed several times over. Then, lips slightly quivering, he spoke. “…I…was scared…”

“—and killed him in an attempt to protect yourself. Yeah, we know.”

“Omega!” Colette snapped.

The minute he’d tried to confess, Omega interrupted. Colette glared at her witch companion. “Admonsah is trying his very hardest to speak right now. And you…”

“I appreciate the consideration, but sentiment only hinders the truth,” Omega said. “At the very least, it’s fairly obvious that his actions weren’t planned, seeing as how he didn’t even use his own knives, but his fists, to do the deed.”

“The knives… Ah, yes…he’s a knife-thrower,” Colette recalled.

Admonsah, the traveling entertainer, had demonstrated his knife-throwing skills earlier in the church. Most had completely forgotten the extraordinary experience thanks to Maqueena’s outbursts, but there was no way that Omega would forget. On top of that, the blades were clean and unstained, never having known the taste of blood.

“The reason he didn’t use the very weapons he regularly carried on his own body in such a dire situation was likely because, as a traveling entertainer, he’s never considered his knives to be anything more than tools,” explained Omega. “That brings only one situation to mind where he’d mindlessly kill with his fists.”

“W-Which is…?” Maqueena hesitated to ask.

“If they were about to be killed themselves, and had to fight back.”

“Hence your self-defense theory, huh,” Podoso mused.

Speculating on the truth behind the circumstances, such a possibility emerged. Without so much as touching his knives, Admonsah murdered the very man who had fitted him with a slave collar. His scars and fresh wounds provided sufficient insight into the harsh environment he had lived in.

Once given permission to abuse another, humans become capable of any degree of cruelty, thought Omega. And there’s no limit as to how far they can take it. “With that in mind, I believe Admonsah has been sincere with us,” she stated. “In any case, he’s from the Multi-Arm Clan… If he really wanted to, he could certainly kill us all.”

When it came to physical strength, nobody in that church was a match for Admonsah. But despite his crimes being exposed, he seemed to have no intent to silence them. As it were, Admonsah’s disposition was not one for hurting others.

“If it’s true that he was abused and acted in self-defense, that should be sufficient grounds for consideration, right?” Podoso asked, scratching his head.

“Huh? You can’t mean…” Maqueena’s eyes widened.

“We have no choice, right?” Podoso continued, curling his lips. “Think about it, the one in the wrong was the guy who dragged Admonsah around. If I could, I’d personally have liked to send him flying with a punch myself.”

“But he’s a murderer?!” Maqueena exclaimed. “You don’t care…?!”

“Hate the crime, not the person,” Lysa remarked.

As Maqueena persisted, Lysa gently put pressure on her shoulders from behind. The itinerant preacher shook her head, and then turned to Admonsah—still in Colette’s embrace. He raised his head slowly, still miserable, as Lysa extended a hand towards him. “You may have murdered someone. Every action is judged by the Silver Blessing. If there is to be a punishment, then so be it. But I do not believe that you deserve to be hurt.”

“U…Y-You will…?”

“In short,” she concluded, “I forgive you.”


Admonsah was struck by Lysa’s smile and declaration. Colette gently stroked his surprised face. “It’s okay, Admonsah. No one here will hurt you. And if anyone tries it, I’ll have your back.”


Touched by Colette’s words, Admonsah broke into a sob. The sight of the young girl soothing the weeping giant was like a scene out of a storybook.

“You must be proud to see that, huh, Palmyra?”

“You truly are a person without remorse.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. You should be praising me for learning to understand people’s hearts.”

Such was the punchline of Omega and Palmyra’s banter.


If only the issue could’ve been settled just like that, it would’ve been a great relief indeed. However—

“That settles Admonsah’s part in all this,” Trellock began, “but what about the old gentleman in the church? That certainly couldn’t have been Admonsah too…”

Admonsah shook his head. “N-No…not me…”

Trellock nodded. “I figured as much.”

In regards to Admonsah’s crime, he agreed to descend the mountain with Podoso and turn himself in afterwards. Due to the extenuating circumstances, he probably wouldn’t be treated too badly. However, that only resolved the seventh victim, who had been found on the outskirts of the town.

The incident in the church and the serial killer spreading fear amongst the public remained a mystery.

“Judging by what Omega said,” Palmyra recalled, “the serial murders and the pastor’s murder are completely unrelated, right? Then we only need to solve the pastor’s murder.”

“Well, technically we don’t need to solve the pastor’s murder either,” Omega sighed. “As long as we stay on guard, descend the mountain together, and submit ourselves for questioning, we’ll be fine.”

However, it would be inconvenient for the culprit if we all were to submit ourselves for questioning simultaneously. There’s a good chance he’ll attempt to silence us before we could do that. That’s what we should all be most concerned about right now.

But Omega left that part out, not wanting to worry Colette and Palmyra. “By the way, are there any valuables or the like in this church?” she asked.

“Again, such strange questions… Where did that come from?” wondered Palmyra.

Omega replied thoughtfully, “The most obvious motive for attacking an old man who lives alone like this would be to rob him, right? From what I’ve heard today, the pastor used his own personal funds to help rebuild the town that was struck by an avalanche. So clearly, he had savings.”

“As you can probably guess,” Podoso spoke, “I don’t know anything about Pastor Coatl’s savings.” Not even he, the most knowledgeable in the group, knew the contents of another man’s purse. As he relinquished his title as the walking encyclopedia of all things local, Omega looked around the inside of the church.

Surely not even the pastor, saintly as he was, would have donated enough money to endanger his own livelihood, she thought. Pastor Coatl would have had a rough idea of how much money he could use on the town. Which meant that his savings must be somewhere in this church. However, where it was, she wasn’t sure.

“Well, it has to be hidden somewhere around here,” insisted Omega. “Like a room in the basement. That would make the most sense.”

“Like a safe or a secret treasury?” Trellock wondered aloud. “That would be a dream come true.”

“…You joke, but you may just be onto something,” Omega said.


Trellock, even the quick-witted one, raised an eyebrow at Omega’s remark. Although not intending to confuse him, she cast a glance toward the hall, or rather, toward the basement beyond. “There’s something I want to check. Can I inspect the body in the basement?”

“Something you want to check? Just because the dead can’t object doesn’t give you the right to do as you please with them.”

“Palmyra, you so regularly misunderstand me,” Omega objected upon hearing such an unthinkable assumption as she headed for the basement. “I’m not just doing it out of curiosity, you know.”

No one was willing to let Omega act alone, however, and so everyone soon followed.

“S-S-So? What do you need to check in this depressing place?” Maqueena asked in uncertainty.

“If you’re going to be scared, perhaps you should wait up stairs?”

“Everyone else came—I didn’t want to be the only one left behind! But I don’t want to be around a corpse either!”

Out of consideration for Maqueena’s complex feelings of grief, Omega promptly returned to the investigation. Hitting the lagmite crystal embedded in the wall, the room flooded with white light. But because the crystal’s light would fade over time, she needed to strike it again every so often in order to examine the corpse, now covered with a sheet.

“Did you figure something out?” Lysa asked hopefully.

“The dead may not be able to speak, but they’re far more eloquent than when they were alive,” Omega suggested. “For instance, this body has been tortured.”

“Tortured?!” Podoso exclaimed, aghast. “Pastor Coatl?!”

“Although his split head may grab your attention, his fingers and the inside of his mouth are in terrible shape, too. It seems the culprit really wanted to know something. Also… Yep, just as I thought. They’re gone.”

Omega rummaged as she spoke—with absolutely no hesitation and much to the horror of those watching. Ignoring their stares, she furrowed her brow as she fumbled around inside Pastor Coatl’s breast pocket.

Hearing her murmur, Colette called her name. “Omega? Are you looking for something? Messing with someone’s corpse like that is bad.”

“Yes, it is bad. And the culprit did just that…”


Wiping her bloody hands on the sheet, Omega stood up. Taking note of the others, looking expectantly for an explanation, she let out a long breath. “In all likelihood, the things Pastor Coatl had on his person…keys, or something like that, I suspect? They’ve all been stolen. That could very well have been the culprit’s goal.”

“K-Keys?” Maqueena asked, confused. “How do you even know?”

“He went out of his way to set up a secret basement. It’s obvious he was being cautious… Also, it’s hard to see, but there are chafe marks on his neck—most likely evidence that he usually wore something around his neck. What could be something that a cautious person like him would always keep on his person and has disappeared from his corpse that shows signs of torture…”

“I see. It must’ve been the key for the safe that held all the pastor’s assets.” Trellock snapped his fingers, arriving at the same conclusion as Omega. The others, although a bit late, eventually caught on.

“Then, Omega,” Lysa inquired, “are you saying—the culprit who murdered Pastor Coatl is most likely carrying the key the pastor had on him?”

“It’s just speculation,” said Omega, shrugging her shoulders. “But it is certainly a more constructive conclusion than just recklessly casting suspicion on each other. If you’re going to accuse someone, you need a reason. That’s how witch-hunts go.”

“Why do you use witches in every example?” Palmyra asked, rather fed-up.

However, she knew that Omega wasn’t completely wrong, so made no attempt to object. It was, after all, an effective method. Even supposing that the culprit wanted to harm them, they still had the physical monster that was Admonsah.


After her explanation, Omega felt a sudden heavy weight upon her head. At first, she attributed it to fatigue accumulated from their long journey in the snow. However, she quickly realized that wasn’t the case. This was something caused intentionally.

“Uh…Ah…” With a small moan, Palmyra fell to her knees before Omega. But there was no one there to catch her. Everyone else had collapsed at exactly the same time.

The cause of their exhaustion came from a faint sweet scent that tickled their nose.

“This is your fault, half-devil…! You shouldn’t have said anything…!”

The sorrowful words rained down on Omega, who had fallen to the floor herself. Hearing the trembling voice, Omega slowly—very slowly—closed her eyes. Her body was so heavy that doing anything at all seemed incredibly exhausting.


Once she was sure that everyone was out cold, Maqueena brushed away the remains of the pollen from the sleeping flower—more commonly known as Muskrim—that permeated the basement. Her precautionary measures had worked wonders. Muskrim’s pollen could induce any human into a deep sleep. Nobody should awaken for a while.

“In the meantime…ah, here it is.”

Stepping over Omega’s fallen body, Maqueena searched the floor. Tearing away a faintly discolored floorboard, she came face-to-face with the safe hidden beneath. With a slight inhale, she took out the key hidden in her breast pocket and opened the safe.

Inside lay a number of small bags, which upon inspection revealed a collection of high-quality magic stones. There were nearly a dozen individual bags in the safe, which could each be worth a fortune on their own.

“I’d better grab these and hit the road!”

Maqueena pulled another sheet from the wooden crate, bundled all the small bags together, and left.

Making her way out of the basement, she grabbed her belongings and peeked outside of the church. After judging the strength of the blizzard, she headed outside. The wind was cold, and the snow bit at her skin. But compared to when it was at its peak, the blizzard had weakened a considerable amount.

“I can do this… If I stay here, I’ll be killed for sure…!”

She knew descending the mountain in the dark would endanger her life, but staying in the chapel meant certain death. Opting for the path with the higher probability of survival—small as it was—Maqueena set off from the church.

Using the piercing white light of the magical lagmite stones from the chapel, she began her walk through the snow and darkness. Fortunately, she was used to walking in such conditions, which had nothing to do with her being a resident of the Holy Kingdom of Gusteko.

It was a skill that had been necessary for her job.


The Muskrim that knocked everyone out in the church was just another provision for the job. She had crossed a dangerous bridge for that job, and continued to risk her life to this day. How utterly fateful it was to be saved by the very skills acquired through such work.

“It’s all Coatl’s fault for being such a fool…”

“Oh, how awfully interesting. I’d love to hear the rest of that story.”

The snide remark accompanied by a white breath was overshadowed by an unexpected—but gentle—voice. Maqueena’s breath caught in her throat in surprise as she turned to face the voice, only to be struck in the gut with a jolt.

“Ah, ugh!”

Maqueena tumbled through the snow, hissing in pain from the gut kick. Both the pain and the surprise accelerated her breathing, the persistent ringing in her ears only adding to her confusion.

What’s—what’s—what’s—what’s going on?

“It’s quite simple. No mediocre poison or drug can affect a temple knight…or an itinerant preacher. We are blessed.”

“A-And you, B-Big breasts… You’re the one who… Old Man Coatl…!”

“I thought I told you to stop calling me that…”

The figure looked down on Maqueena as if she were a naughty child. She was a woman donning black church vestments—Lysa.

She had coverings on both hands made of a dark-gray steel—which could easily make light work of smashing someone’s head in. Just like what happened to the corpse in the basement.

“Rest assured, Maqueena. I will not torment you for very long.”

“W-Wait! Wait, wait! H-How about money? Is that what you want? Here! Take it all! These magic stones will set you up for life! So—”

“Unfortunately, money is not what I seek. What I seek are the lives of Pastor Coatl…and you, Maqueena.”



Maqueena, voice breaking as she pleaded for her life, suddenly stopped. Before her stood Lysa, an ice-cold gaze fixated on her own.


That was the name of a town that once existed within Gusteko, but was now no more.

“It’s the village that was destroyed by the ice thieves, which Pastor Coatl once belonged to. In their attempts to dig out their buried treasure, they caused the avalanche.”

“You’re from Leanotte…”

“I am a survivor, yes. After my family and neighbors all died, I passed through the gates of the Gustekan Church. And I have waited a long time for this day.”

Lysa clenched one hand into a fist before her, hitting her palm with a clang. Gasping, Maqueena searched for some sort of salvation as the sight of Pastor Coatl’s corpse flashed in her mind—it was the sight of a corpse that had been tortured up until the moment of his death.


“Please apologize to my family, Maqueena. To the Silver Blessing.”

She attempted to scream, but found her throat had closed up with fear. Lysa wordlessly raised her fist and…a flash of light came flying out of nowhere.


The light struck Lysa’s raised fist and bounced off. Lysa spun around in surprise as Maqueena faced the same direction, dumbfounded to find a small shadowy figure looming in the blizzard.

“…Sorry to disturb, but could you hold off on making a second corpse, Lysa?”

With that, the witch pointed a finger at the preacher, stalling Lysa’s opportunity to take revenge.


Maqueena lay slumped over in the snow, as Lysa stood before her on the verge of committing an execution. Staring directly at the two of them, Omega shrugged her shoulders and sighed. “Sleeping flowers sure make me nostalgic. I thought I’d pretend to fall asleep to smoke out the real villain, but…”

“…But what?”

“But I carelessly forgot to cover my mouth and nose and passed out for a bit. Luckily, the sense of danger woke me up in the nick of time.”

If she’d slept for just a minute longer, Maqueena would have been the next victim. She didn’t particularly have any attachment to Maqueena, but she didn’t want her dead, either.

That would be a tragedy not only for Maqueena, but for her murderer, as well.

“Lysa, I know why you killed Pastor Coatl, and why you want to kill Maqueena, too. You were one of the victims, too, aren’t you? Of Pastor Coatl, Saint of the Avalanche and affiliate of the Ice Thieves. You were a victim of his misdeeds, as well as of the good deeds that he did as repentance.”

“How could you know that…”

“It’s not that complicated—I heard you talking just now… But killing Maqueena won’t fulfill your revenge. She’s not the target.”


Lysa’s gentle eyes sharpened as she shouted at Omega, who interrupted her. But the witch in the snowstorm did not waver a bit. Omega looked past Lysa at Maqueena, who was buried in the snow.

“She must’ve been visiting that church for a while, right? Her discovery of that hidden basement was too much of a coincidence, and she even knew where to find the sheet to cover the body with. That’s when she took the key from the pastor’s neck, leading her into this situation.”

“I-It was just an impulse… And now I’m in this mess because of you!”

“You’re right. All because I haphazardly said that whoever was holding the key was probably the murderer. So you felt like you had to make a desperate escape. If you’d been found with the key, you’d have been treated as the murderer. For all you know you could have been beaten to death then and there.”

Omega apologized to her, admitting her role in setting the stage. Originally, it was a pretext to smoke out the key thief. Besides—

“Lysa, you finished your revenge by killing Pastor Coatl, no? The pastor didn’t crack when you tortured him, and people who don’t talk won’t talk no matter what is done to them.”

“Well… How do you explain Maqueena coming and going in the church? Huh?! She was acquainted with the pastor, and she also knew about the Ice Thieves’ money in the safe…”

“It’s simple. She’s a conman. The minute you hear her sing, it’s pretty obvious that being a minstrel is just a front. She must’ve realized the connection between the Ice Thieves and the Saint of the Avalanche, then decided to extort money from Pastor Coatl. She’s probably done it countless times.”


Completely lost for words, Lysa stared at the fallen Maqueena. At Lysa’s gaze and Omega’s conjecture, Maqueena nodded her head frantically, appealing to the fact that she was unrelated to Lysa’s revenge.

“The pastor regretted causing the avalanche and the disaster that followed. His attempts to restore Podoso’s town to its former glory was a kind of atonement. After that, he lived a simple life in penance. Isn’t that enough?”


“Of course, there is also the possibility that Maqueena, being a sly creature, is taking advantage of my deductions and hoping I miss something. So, I’m not saying you absolutely can’t smash her head in.”

“Huh?!” Maqueena cried.

Maqueena froze in astonishment as she felt her bright future begin to slip away. But neither Omega nor Lysa paid her any mind. The only thing of any importance to them was each other.

Omega raised a finger, glowing with the same light that had reflected off the back of Lysa’s hands. “Some friends of mine told me to be mindful of causing too many deaths for the sake of the young children I travel with, so I’ve made it my policy. Also, you saved my life, so I owe you a debt of gratitude. That’s why I’m willing to overlook the fact that you murdered Pastor Coatl.”


“But I won’t ignore a second death. If you smash Maqueena’s head in to exact your pointless revenge, the third death will be yours. Choose carefully.”

Itinerant preachers had power in line with temple knights—known as the executioners of the Gustekan Church. To have the responsibility of traveling to various places to spread the teachings, you had to be prepared to punish anything that contradicts those teachings.

Lysa clearly possessed abilities that belied her appearance. However, even she didn’t dare act too brazenly in front of Omega—a witch.

“Well then. What’s your decision? Whatever happens will be of great interest to me,” the witch said, making light of the cruelty in the snow.


In the church basement where the presence of people had decreased, the man slowly began to move his body.


Three people had vanished from the room—the minstrel, the clergywoman, and the odd young girl. Setting aside the first two, it was the young girl he was most concerned about.

“She had a strange, dangerous air about her.”

His feet and hands were still heavy, but the effects of the pollen from the sleeping flower were gradually wearing off. He had never fallen completely asleep—he only pretended to so that he could watch the events unfold. He had great interest in exactly who was using his name.

“Still, I never expected to be implicated in two murders I had nothing to do with. I was almost blamed for both of them… The masses must live with their own selfish preconceptions…”

It was superficial to apply one’s own reasoning to that which one does not understand. In that respect, the young girl’s outlook was rather commendable.

—That was living by one’s own philosophy.

Not even he chose to harm people at random. He only destroyed the faces of those he yearned for. By stripping them of their face, by removing the mask of their persona, he could become anyone he wanted to be.

The owner of the personality that he currently employed had been an incredibly wary character, so he couldn’t tear off their face. He had crossed paths with this sociable peddler on the road. If he had only managed to tear his face off, too, everything would’ve been absolutely perfect.

“This current face is imperfect. I should start searching for the next one…”

Unfortunately there were no respectable faces left inside the church basement.

With none to pique his interest, the incredibly pure lady was the next best choice. He would peel her face off, then chase after the young girl who went outside. Her face seemed to conceal infinite knowledge. He wondered exactly what kind of transformation such a face would bring him.

“So I’ll be taking your face for now, young lady.”

Pulling a glove over his hand, the razor blades attached to the fingertips glinted in the light. With this glove, peeling faces off was so easy, it was amusing.

Preparing to flay her face, the man leaned towards the fallen young lady. The stronger girl had her arms wrapped protectively around his target. He scoffed at their touching relationship.

He wondered what kind of face she’d make once she’d awaken and find the one she tried to protect dead in her arms.



He pressed a palm onto the girl’s face, ready to remove it, when a strong impact struck his right arm, shattering his fingers, wrist, and shoulder—destroying the entire limb.

Surprise preceded the pain, and the man’s eyes shot open when he realized what happened. Slowly, the seemingly youthful girl rose up, releasing a terrible roar reminiscent of a ferocious beast.


“Sensing the danger of its bearer, it bestows tremendous physical power in exchange for their rationality… Yes, this is a demonstration of the true nature of the Beast Protection Bracelet. It certainly is a pleasure to behold.” Omega smiled as she offered her commentary.

“…Is that all you’re going to say?” asked Palmyra.

“Dear me, Palmyra, are you really pouting because everything was solved while you were sleeping?”

The morning sun shone into the chapel as Palmyra sulked. “Idiot,” she growled at Omega.

The night of the blizzard had passed, and morning had come again. Those who spent that night in the church could certainly be called fortunate to have survived the madness. However—

“When I woke, half the church had been destroyed, two people who should have been there were missing…and in the end, a conman turned themselves in. I have no idea what to do with all this.” Looking over the damage caused to the church, Podoso sighed, leaving a cloud of mist in the air.

Indeed as he had said, two people—Lysa and Trellock—had vanished from the church. But for the life of him, he could find no reason for that fact.

“So that skinny guy was the serial killer, and the preacher lady beat him up and seized him…am I getting that right?” Podoso asked quizzically.

“Yes,” Omega confirmed. “And to bring him to justice, she boldly took him down the mountain, leaving us with a delightful misdemeanor as a parting gift. What do you plan to do with Admonsah?”

“…There are a lot of things to take into consideration with him. Luckily, if there really is a serial killer and he’s beaten up, then his crime may well be mistaken as part of those serial murders.”

Laying the preparations for a happy conclusion, Podoso scratched his head as Omega raised an eyebrow. I thought for sure Podoso would make a more obstinate choice. I had prepared so many things in advance to persuade him otherwise.

“So then, you’re letting Admonsah go?” she asked.

“It would be irresponsible to throw him out like that, no? He has nowhere to go, so I’ll bring him to my town. I’ve always wanted an assistant at work.”

Hearing Podoso’s empathetic reply, it was clear that he was a man who was always genuine, both with people and work. He’s a fine fellow.

“I’m glad we’re leaving things in your care, Podoso,” Omega said. “Now if only you were considerate towards women, then you may even be able to get married.”

“Don’t be such a brat!” he spat. “Now get out of here! And have a safe trip!”

Saying their goodbyes, Omega and the others parted from the remaining group on their way to town. Although she knew he’d be pardoned, it was still difficult for Colette to leave Admonsah. They had grown close over their short period of time together.

“Goodbye, Admonsah. I’m sure…we’ll meet again. When we do, you’ll have to show me your knife throwing again,” Colette said, bidding farewell on the mountain.

Admonsah waved his enormous hand. “Y-Yes. Colette… Careful… I’ll…be okay.”


There they left Podoso and Admonsah, as well as Maqueena—who was bound with a rope.

“Just so you know, what happened last night—”

“I w-won’t tell them!” Maqueena cut off Omega’s warning in an attempt to secure her future, pale-faced and lifeless. “I won’t say a word! I’ll live a simple life, just singing and practicing my lyulyre every day!”

Maqueena had a predisposition for a rather loose tongue, but with her life at stake, she had no choice but to fight this urge. Even Omega prayed for a cure. Otherwise, it would be quite a pain indeed.

Parting from the other three, Omega and the others resumed their journey together. As they walked along the snowy path in the opposite direction to Podoso and the others, Palmyra narrowed her eyes and turned to Omega, asking, “So what happened in the end?”

As Colette also waited for an answer, Omega let out a sigh. “The events that took place were basically as you saw. A pitiful saint was murdered by a victim born from his past sins. Whether it’s fate or not, a conman who connected the dots just so happened to be present to witness the revenge… I suppose Trellock’s presence was the only thing completely out of place. He was unlucky, too.”

Trellock had most likely been defeated by Colette, who transformed into a beast with her bracelet when he dared to reach out to her. They never found his body, but the bloodstains in the basement and church suggested that it was unlikely he’d survive fleeing down the mountain.

But if by some chance he did, there was no doubt he’d refrain from meddling with Omega’s group a second time.

“It’s a shame we never got to say goodbye to Lysa,” lamented Colette. “It’s thanks to her that we’re all okay.” Colette fully believed Omega’s cover story, and regretted being unable to express gratitude to the one who had saved her.

The Beast Protection Bracelet—the Meteor used in the incident—was the reason Colette’s parents were taken from her, so she didn’t really like to use it. So if she were to believe such a half-hearted excuse, then it was best to just let it be. That was what Omega—no, Palmyra—had said, as the most sensible member of their party. Neither did Omega have any objections.

“To sum up: thanks to the serial killer, a man forced to commit a crime he never intended to commit was blessed with a second chance at life. A curious but reasonable coincidence,” Omega concluded.

“But adding in the witch element as a secret ingredient still doesn’t quite make it a stew, though…” Palmyra’s face made it clear she was sick of it. It was a face she made often, but it was also a kind of symbol of her pessimistic nature, so it wasn’t something that would ever change.

You can’t control the nature you’re born with. As a witch, that was just as true.


Next to the deeply-moved Omega, Colette’s eyes grew in surprise as she noticed something. Following her gaze, they found the figure of a person standing along the snowy road.

Realizing who the figure was, Omega raised her eyebrows.

“Lysa! Oh, I’m so glad to see you again! I wanted to say thanks!” Calling out the figure’s name, Colette broke off into a run towards her. For a moment, Palmyra—who only knew half of the story—froze. But Omega shook her head.

If Lysa had been plotting something, there’d be no reason to show herself like this.

She embraced Colette into her large chest, smiled, and stroked her head. “Are you saying that because I saved you all?”

“Yes, of course. You put yourself in danger for us. Thank you, Lysa.”

Lysa confirmed the situation with her question, receiving Colette’s thanks as she glanced over at the nodding Omega and Palmyra. Palmyra gawked at the awkwardness of the two embracing. “So what’s going on?” she asked. “I heard that you had a good reason for rushing off down the mountain.”

“Yes, I did… But that reason disappeared. And my path has suddenly darkened; I’m not sure what to do now.”

“Your reason disappeared? Did you lose your job?”

“…Yes, I lost my job…and my purpose in life,” Lysa mumbled solemnly.

Her motive behind becoming an itinerant preacher and gaining such unparalleled abilities was revenge. But Pastor Coatl would not divulge the names of his peers, causing her revenge to all but collapse.

All that was left was the empty shell of a woman named Lysa Conwell.

“I know!” Colette exclaimed, clapping her hands together in front of her chest. “Then why don’t you come with us? You seem well-traveled, and will probably be of great help to us.”


“Hey, Colette! You can’t just—” Palmyra began to object.

“It’s fine, Palmyra. If Lysa is with us, then Omega won’t get hurt even if we’re careless.”

Lysa and Palmyra widened their eyes as they pondered Colette’s proposal. For some reason, Omega was used as a persuasive factor, although she couldn’t help but wonder why.

“Well, Omega? What do you think?” Colette asked.

“…You guys do whatever you want. You don’t have to decide right away. It’s a long, cold walk down the mountain. You have time.”

Omega shrugged off Colette’s innocent invitation. The gesture was awkward and puppet-like, affected by the frigid air and her own frost-bitten feet. Colette burst out laughing at the sight, and Palmyra giggled. And watching the girls brought a subtle smile to Lysa’s face, as well.

Omega gazed up at the remarkably blue sky and exhaled a misty breath. It would seem that more companions shall be joining us on our journey.